Protest at Shirley Franklin's house prompts a furious email exchange

On Thursday, former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin was in Flint, Mich., trying to help that city recover from its poisonous water system. We’ve already told you about that.

But also on Thursday, a group of yellow-clad protestors came knocking at her door in southwest Atlanta. From 11Alive:

The parents of about 30 Thomasville Heights Elementary School students said they were upset over a Board of Education vote that will turn the school over to Franklin's Purpose Built Communities organization. The parents said they were outraged that they weren't included in the decision-making process.

Students and parents marched to the door of Franklin's home in southwest Atlanta on Thursday to ask her "not to place profits over children."

The protest was led by members of the union AFSME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Franklin is a member of the board of Purpose Built Communities, which would be in charge of four Atlanta schools under the system’s “turnaround program.”

State Sen. Vincent Fort, a potential Atlanta mayoral candidate, used a point of personal privilege on the Senate floor to criticize the protesters. He told us this morning that it "went beyond the pale."

"It was an intimidating situation. I agree with Shirley Franklin on many issues and disagree with her on some issues," he said. "But in the tradition of King's non-violent protests, you always reach out to the person first. A protest at a person's home is the last resort."

The Thursday protest prompted a chain of email messages involving, among others, a furious Franklin and the Rev. Joe Beasley, a longtime civil rights activist in Atlanta. It happened just after midnight. An essential part of the takeaway: Some people are pushing Franklin to make another run for mayor in 2017:

Joe Beasley at 12:23 a.m. today:

Let's recall the Board!

Franklin at 12:46 a.m.:

Joe, your response is outrageous. Shirley

Joe Beasley at 2:35 a.m.:

Shirley, I respect you as a human being but your publicly policy as an administrator for Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson and your own tenure as Mayor has [led] to the gentrification of Atlanta! I cautioned you and Renee Glover that the destruction of public housing in Atlanta, at the behest of the business community, would destroy the political leadership of Atlanta!

Your Administration conspired with the business community to close Peachtree Pine Homeless Shelter, occupied by 99% of black men, women and children, and as you know the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in our favor that your Administrations actions is tantamount to "Racketeering". Somebody in your office is likely to be indicted and go to prison because of your position on the treatment of "the least of these."

Your involvement with the Charter School Movement and the Superintendent is not clear at this moment! I would be happy to meet with you to better understand the relationship.

Shirley Franklin at 9 a.m.:


Then why did you and Rev Mc Donald ask me publicly to run for mayor again because you are frustrated with the current leadership at City Hall? It makes no sense to ask me to run for mayor with your support a few months ago and to attack my public service record now. You seem willing to ask for my leadership, when it is convenient for you and to support the violation of my rights, when it is convenient and serves your purposes. The hypocrisy is appalling! I expect you and those who preach human rights as you are quick to do to be above hypocrisy. You owe me an apology for your misguided attack in this case. You don't stand on ethical ground. You know I am speaking the truth and so does everyone else who has an ounce of integrity

 You have never condoned a march on another mayor's residence -- not Andy's, not Maynard's , not Bill's, not Massell's and certainly not Reed's. Is this because I am a woman or perhaps because as a woman I express my independence and rights just as you do whenever my experience and principles lead me to do so? Do you think I am weak as a woman? Is this a vestige of second class citizenship meant only for women? Your record in this matter causes me to question.

Don't get me wrong. I expect my actions and ideas to be challenged. Every American has constitutional rights to protest. If you are honest about it, my record supports protecting others' right to protest. I designed and executed the protest plan for the Olympics. I designed and executed public policy action plans for the City of Atlanta for protests from the KKK March to AUC student demonstrations, Hosea Williams Sleep-In at City Hall to Rev. Boone's March in the halls [of] City Hall. There is too little space to refresh your memory, my friend. I know the law and I understand the principles of fairness and safety and the value of protest and have lived my professional life to protect these for others.

Perhaps like you my participation in public protest began in our teens because I care deeply about issues of war, poverty, discrimination and hardship of millions of people in America. At a young age I learned the principles and value of protest at my hometown church founded by Reverend Absolm Jones, from my Quaker teachers in high school and from the legacy of Reverend Lucius Holsey. Protest is not new to me. I have studied it. I have organized it. I have defended protesters. I have protested and managed protest for the city. I have a 360 degree understanding of protest in America and Atlanta.

The protest at my front door was illegal and dangerous and your excuses do not change that. Your email is an insult to my intelligence and a complete back track of your urging me to run for mayor again "because we need your leadership and are the only one."

There is no place for hypocrisy in our struggle.


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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.